The term “mobile devices” comprises a wide range of gadgets from mobile phones, tablets, smartphones, and GPS units to PDAs and other wearables. What all of these share in common is the fact that they can hold a lot of user data that can be used or misused, given the motive.
Mobile devices are smack in the midst of three great technological advancements: the Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud Computing, and Big Data. The quick growth of mobile technology is one the primary causes for these trends to boom starting the previous decade. As per statistics, the U.S. wireless subscriber base is projected to grow to 382.3 million by the year 2023 at a 1.6% CAGR, as compared to 353.7 million in 2018.
Today, mobile devices can be as harmful as they are helpful, especially in the case of digital forensics, because these tiny machines gather and store huge amounts of data every day. They can be scanned in a forensic investigation to assist in the reduction of digital and physical crimes.
As these devices represent the digital extension of their owners, these machines can give digital forensic investigators a lot of data. Usually, they employ the use of extensive tools including cell phone forensics software to extract and make sense of necessary data to get actionable insights. Listed below are the kinds of information you can access on a mobile device with the help of such forensic digital tools.
Information That can be Stored on Mobile Devices:
- Outgoing, incoming, and missed call history
- To-do lists, personal notes, calendar events, dedicated ringtones, and reminders
- SMS text messages, and other messaging content from third-party applications
- Passwords, passcodes, swipe codes, user account credentials
- Contact list
- Photographs, videos, locations, and also voicemail notes
- System files, user logs, error and crash reports
- Internet browsing history, cookies, viewed content, analytics data, and cache.
- Documents, Drive files, spreadsheets, presentations, or user-created information
- Installed app data
- Historical geolocation tags, cell phone service related locational information, Wi-Fi connection data
- Personal dictionary entries
- Deleted data from the aforementioned
Crimes do not occur in isolation from technological activities and digital imprints. Hence, mobile device forensics has turned into a significant aspect of digital forensics.
Among the professionals who can be entrusted with the execution of the tasks under cell phone forensics are:
- Forensic Examiners
- Incident Responders
- Corporate Investigators
During an inquiry into any crime that comprises the use of mobile technology, these professionals use an array of tools needed to gather every scrap of data that may assist them to track patterns or even trace an individual, such as the device’s passwords, lock pattern, or PINs.
Most people cannot comprehend the complexity of mobile forensics and the intricacy it requires. As mobile devices are increasingly being used for both professional and personal purposes, the amount of data they hold will continue to expand exponentially.
Mobile forensics aspires to retrieve digital evidence or the necessary data such devices carry in a way that extracts and documents evidence in a forensically acceptable format.